This is a big cliché, but it’s true, so that makes it okay to say (or so goes the rule that I just made up): the MLB season is a long season. There are a lot of things that happen in a season. Some of them are important, and some of them aren’t. The following is a cheatsheet rundown of all the things that have been happening lately for the Texas Rangers, presented mostly without comment. I’m leaving it to you to decide if these things are important or not.
Mitch Moreland left Tuesday night’s game with a strained left hamstring. Watching it happen live, it looked like his hamstring was a rubber band stretched too tight that popped when his foot hit first base. Moreland joins Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland, Alexi Ogando, and Koji Uehara on the Rangers’ disabled list. Up until about 4 weeks ago, the Rangers had been the beneficiaries of an incredible healthy roster that went deep into the season without requiring a change to their 25-man roster. They’re clearly making up for lost time now.
With the loss of Moreland, the question becomes what do the Rangers do now? There are plenty of options, but few of them include a replacement position player coming up from the minor leagues. There is not an obvious candidate knocking down the door. Mike Olt would be the most likely choice, but he is only halfway through his first season at double-A, and it is probably not his time yet. Instead, the Rangers will likely rotate Michael Young, Mike Napoli, and Brandon Snyder at first base. More time for Napoli at first base means more time at catcher for Yorvit Torrealba, as well as the Rangers bench being only three position players deep. It’s not a desirable outcome, but if it’s only needed for a couple of weeks, it’s manageable.
If Moreland does go on the disabled list, that will open up a roster spot. As we just determined (see how we’re determining things?), that spot will probably not go to a position player. The most likely candidate it will go to is none other than Roy Oswalt. It was reported today that it will be Oswalt making the start for the Rangers on Friday, though nothing official has been announced. Oswalt has made four minor league starts for the Rangers, without stellar results. However, he worked through six innings and 100 pitches, and did so effectively. There isn’t anything left for him to gain from another minor league start, particularly considering the health issues the big league club is currently facing.
The Rangers beat the San Diego Padres 7-3 tonight, giving Texas wins in eight of their last nine games, and pushing their run differential back up to +92, still far and away the leaders in that category. The Los Angeles Angels also won, so the lead for the Rangers stays at five games in the AL West. The fifteen games over .500 42-27 record for the Rangers is the highest they have been above .500 this season. The Rangers are now 11-3 in interleague play in 2012. The fact that 11 of those 14 games have come against Houston and San Diego (combined record of 52-85) is a big factor in that. Still, they have to play the games, and the Rangers are taking care of business against their [lesser] National League foes right now.
Scott Feldman finally picked up a win for the Rangers after losing his first six starts. He pitched six innings on 97 pitches, gave up 7 hits and 2 runs, walking none and striking out five. If Elvis Andrus had been able to successfully complete a rather routine double play in the 6th inning, Feldman would have only allowed one run, and perhaps had a chance to pitch the 7th inning. In his last four starts, Feldman now has 21 strikeouts and 2 walks.
There are a lot of things happening in the world of the Texas Rangers. Of course, there are always a lot of things happening in the world of any MLB team during the season. It’s a long season (as we established via the cliché), so lots of things happen. Some of these things are important, and some aren’t. It is tough to know which is which until some time has elapsed, and we can reflect on the impact of these events. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, so sometimes as the race is being run it is tough to achieve perspective on the difference between a pebble in your shoe and a minor cramp. Look, I’m closing this piece with another cliché and a weak metaphor. That’s mid-season form for you.
Join in the conversation with Peter on Twitter by following him @Peter_Ellwood